There were excellent presentations and speeches by the usual suspects - Patrick Harvie, Tommy Sheridan, Aamer Anwar, representatives from Oxfam and G8 alternatives - but the most succesful aspect to the conference, what made it really striking, was the African speakers.
The conference was held at Caledonian University - Glasgow - 23rd April 2005.
There were Afican activists living and campaigning in the UK, such as Sana Bumba and Ndaywel Fay of project Lisalisi, or Makola Mayambika, a one time student activist from Manchester. Sana spoke of the legacy of Colonialism in the Congo, Ndawyel of the burden of African debt, and Makola of the history of resistance in Africa itself. Eunice Sinyemu, who works for Waverley Care in Edinburgh, spoke about HIV both here and in Africa.
Taiye Fatoki, a young activist from Nigeria spoke of the demands of African youth for justice and the tools to help themselves, not handouts and arms imports. There were speeches by African asylum seekers, and by those that have been locked up in Dungave and other detention centresl. with their persepctive on the Governments "tough" asylum and immigration policy. And there were many more speakers, from Africa, from Canada, from Scotland.
The conference was a series of large lectures and smaller workshops on issues that affect Africa - debt, trade, neo-liberalism, HIV and Aids - and the treatment of Africans in Scotland. The irony of this Government's rhetorical commitment to helping Africa, whilst it closes the door to African asylum seekers and tightens the screws on those who do get through seems to go unnoticed, but it was'nt in Glasgow.
The upcoming G8 meetings have also been rebranded as a great hope for the continent - a triumph of spin and double speak. Blair and Brown echo the hollow promise of "the white man's burden" that justified so much of colonialism. But anyone with any familiarity with that history cannot for a minute take seriously the idea that it is our place as a nation, or our leaders, to prescribe solutions. It simply isn't credible. Instead, we need to stop getting in the way, to help if and when asked, and to listen. It was a privalege to listen to so many African speakers, activists and academics, and I hope many others will now be able to due to these recordings.Please feel free to distribute and to use them widely.
Session 1 - Debt, Aid, Trade - Make Poverty History
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP.
audio: MP3 at 8.9 mebibytes
Patrick touches briefly on all the themes to be covered in the conference, and points out the strengths and weaknesses of the Commission for Africa Report. He points out that increasing Aid is not enough, when inappropriate aid, such as out of date medical supplies, are so often given. Conflict is addressed in the report, but the role of the West in controlling arms exports needs to be addressed. He points out that the report only contains a couple of pages about sustainable development out of some four hundred - and that climate change could lead to terrible resource wars in Africa.
Angela O'Hagan, Oxfam Scotland.
audio: MP3 at 8.9 mebibytes
Angela was at the conference representing the Make Poverty History campaign, part of a global effort of groups trying to make our generation the one that finally ends poverty in the World. This is a critical year for us - with the rich worlds leaders gathering at Gleneagles, we can really force our agenda for debt relief, better aid, and fairer trade. Aid tied to economic liberalisation must end, and economic subsidies for Western farmers are a travesty - a point whcih even the Commission for Africa makes clear. There may be disagreement over the Millenium Development Aims, she says, but we can all agree that the aspirations havn't been flfilled, and we need to do better. Hundreds of thousands of people marching on July 2nd will bring those aspirations closer.
Ndaywel Fay, Lisalisi Project.
audio: MP3 at 5.8 mebibytes
Ndaywel cites the huge debt of over 300 billion dollars owed to foreign creditors as being the greatest obstacle to Africa's developement. The top eight countries in Africa alone have to spend 13.5 billion dollars servicing this debt every year. This crippling burden prevents investment and maintenance of health care, education, and the development of sustainable economies. Historically, these debts were acrued by irresponsible lending to corrupt and dictatorial Governments - the money did not go the African people. It is both both morally unjust and of questionable legality that money lent under such conditions should have to be repayed by the contemporary countries and peoples of Africa. Nor can it equal the price of the plunder that Africa was subjected to for so long by those powerful nations. The G8 should drop the debt.
Gill Hubbard, G8 Alternatives.
by Tom Allan Sunday, May. 29, 2005 at 4:36 PM
audio: MP3 at 6.6 mebibytes
Gill says that enough is enough - we've been waiting for the G8 leaders to get their act together for over thirty years, and they not making things better - they're policies are making things worse. The G8 conference is not a chance to "Showcase Scotland" as some of our leaders have suggested , but a chance for the Scottish public to show the World that another World is wanted and anotheer World is possible. She urges everyone turn out for the G8 counter conference on the Sunday after the Make Poverty History March to get involved in the battle for ideas.
Taiye Fatoki - a Young Nigerian Activist.
audio: MP3 at 11.0 mebibytes
Taiye presents a set of demands for Africa - an end to exploration for oil with exploitation, unconditional cancellation of the debt, a cheap source of drugs to combat HIV, an end to the financial support of corrupt regimes, and an end to the sale and profit by the West of arms and other destructive technologies. What Africa needs, what the young people of Africa DEMAND, he says, if there is to be peace in the World, is not handouts and aid tied to Western products and services, but fair trade, technology that can be put to productive use, and an end to exploitation - in other words, the tools to do the job and the freedom to do it, without interference.
Asylum Rights - A World Without Borders
Sandra White, SNP MSP
audio: MP3 at 7.2 mebibytes
Sandra has been highly active in the campaign against Dungavel Detention, and is a member of the cross pary group onAsylum and Immigration. Asylum and immigration are reserve issues, but Sandra talks here of the role that dissenting MSP's have and can play in the Parliament - how they got rid of the degrading voucher scheme system of benefits, for example. But she also make sit clear that what is really needed is for Asylum and Immigration to become a devolved issue - and that the first thing that would happen once it was would be the closure of Dungavel. People who are suffering persecution, she says, should be able to go weherever they want in the world, and we should make them welcome - we need them.
Rosie Kane - SSP MSP.
audio: MP3 at 10.4 mebibytes
Rosie and her party argues consistently against the hypocricy of border that prevent poor people moving around the globe, but allow that free flow of capital. Here she argues that Scotland has both moral and practical reasons for opening her borders, and tells the story of two young children, one from Glasgow, one from Mozambique, whose conversation cuts through all the racist rhetoric surrounding the asylum and immigration debate. The boy from Glasgow asks the boy form Mozambique, "What does your father do then?" The reply is "He works in a diamond mine." "A diamond mine?! He must be a millionaire!" and so the sotry goes on...
Aamar Anwar, Human Rights Lawyer and Campaigner
audio: MP3 at 2.7 mebibytes
Aamer, who was chairing the meetin, spoke briefly here about the fustration of seeing people deported for terrorism charges for spurious and ridiculous reasons, such as one man having a birthday on spetmeber the 11th. But he also noted that there were reasons to celebrate on that day - Magloire Sanu and her children had been released from detention, and were in fact in the room. They were given a standing ovation.
audio: MP3 at 4.7 mebibytes
This is a country that treats asylum seekers worse than dogs, concludes Pastor Daly, a Minister for the Pentecostal Church Chiurch of Redemption, originally from Angola. Daly and his family were detained in Dungavel detention centre and nearly deported this winter. It is ironic that hunting and cruelty to animals is condemned heer, he says, but asylum seekers are degraded, locked up, drugged or handcuffed so that they can be deported - a death sentence. Seeking to flee persecution, seeking to save ones life, has become a crime. Pastor Daly could not attend the conference in person, so his speech was read by Freddie.
There will be a major demonstration at Dungavel during the G8 on July 5th. Transprt is available from both Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Questions and Commments Session
audio: MP3 at 24.5 mebibytes
PREPARING FOR THE G8
Tommy Sheridan, MSP
audio: MP3 at 8.3 mebibytes
Charlotte Eba, African asylum seeker
audio: MP3 at 4.3 mebibytes
Aamar Anwar, human rights lawyer
audio: MP3 at 13.8 mebibytes
Eileen Cook, reporting back from Cairo Conference
audio: MP3 at 5.8 mebibytes
John McAllion, OXFAM Scotland and former Labour MP for Dundee.
audio: MP3 at 1.6 mebibytes
Angela McCormick, Globalise Resistance Scotland
audio: MP3 at 12.5 mebibytes
mother of Gordon Gentle who was killed in Iraq, speaking about her election campaign against Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, in East-Kilbride.
audio: MP3 at 2.3 mebibytes
AFRICA AND RESISTANCE SESSION
audio: MP3 at 11.3 mebibytes
- is an education officer with the Union of Northern Workers in Canada. He wrote "Tell me lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq."  Here he speaks of resistance in Africa with particular reference to the trade union movements.
audio: MP3 at 11.2 mebibytes
- a one time student organiser in Manchester and a member of the Black Student Campaign. Makola takes us on a whistlestop tour of unionist, communist and religious resitance to nascent and established colonialism in South Africa, Cameroon, the DRC, and Zambia - as well as pointing out that the first Pan African Congress was held in Manchester. "I see myself very much as an African who is continuing that tradition of organising black people in Africa and in this country, educating the htme about Africa as well as getting them involved in politics."
Jose Sana Bumba
audio: MP3 at 11.3 mebibytes
- a Congolese Activist whose NGO, Project Lisalisi, helps asylum seekers and refugees with legal and linguistic advice an support. Project Lisalisi is based in London but has also recently open an office in Glasgow, and was instrumental in securing the Daly family's release from Dungavel Detention centre. Sana was speaking of the history of Congo-Brassaville, the legacy of colonialism's carving up of the region, and concludes that the Congo is cursed with being too rich in natural and mineral resources.
For more info about Pastor Daly and Dungavel detention Cenyre, please see;
HIV / AIDS LECTURE
audio: MP3 at 16.5 mebibytes
Oonagh works for Impact Aids in EWdinburgh and is a lecturer at Queen Margaret College. She spoke about the role of pharmaceutical companies and the changing face of international trade agreements
Questions and Answer Session
audio: MP3 at 20.4 mebibytes
Is "humanitarian intervention" the solution?
Djuma Lumbassa Noble
audio: MP3 at 12.9 mebibytes
Djuma Lumbassa Noble - Chair for The Foundation for African Rights, spoke about the way in which humanitarian problems and conflicts in Africa had been ignored whilst other parts of the world had recieved more attention and help. The European countries shouldf take responsibility for the problems which they have created; poverty, the legacy of colonialism, certain man made epedemics - but he also concluded that Africans needed to stop lamenting their situation and act positively.
audio: MP3 at 13.4 mebibytes
Charlie Kimber is a journalist writing for thr Socialist Worker. He opens by pointing out that many people with good intentions believe that some sort of "Great Powers" intervention is required in Africa to sort ou the terrible problems it faces. But this, he argues, is to misunderstand Africa's history. The wealthy western nations, the great imperial powers, only intervene when it is in their economic and strategic interests to do so. What is required is less intervention, not more - indeed, an end to our interference. He takes what he calls a "hard example" to prove his case - the genocide in Ruwanda, and shows how it was European colonial and post-colonial interference that led to that tragedy.